Fraud is the white-collar crime of choice in Sicily, not to say all Sicilian’s are charlatans or fraudsters but some cunning criminal minds enjoy stealing money from the state and the regional government.
When an intricate web of deceit is discovered in the local news I am constantly in awe of the blatant audacity and ultimate creativity of the criminals. I mean could they really think to get away with some of this stuff? Do they really think the rest of us are so stupid as not to notice?
Like the seventy-two people now under investigation accused of defrauding some two million Euro’s of regional funding for the theater at Messina. The people under investigation are accused of advertising theatrical shows, which never took place and pocketing the funding from the regional government at Palermo.
The two main cultural advisors from Messina’s Teatro Vittorio Emanuele said through their lawyers: ‘that they were estranged from the facts and distanced from the context and had no knowledge of the events they are accused of.’ In other words they saw nothing and knew nothing so they are completely innocent.
This is just one example of endless misappropriation of government funds, there are many dodgy dealings going on under the surface which occasionally float above into the limelight of press coverage, like applying for European Union funding to start-up businesses, taking the money setting things up for a couple of years exempt from paying tax and closing the activity down and the recent scandal also involving the Mayor of Messina of professional courses which people paid for, never really attended and were given qualifications just the same.
I don’t think I ever will understand this crime as stealing from your own government is kind of like stealing from yourself, if the funds are designated to improve the culture, social or welfare system they ultimately will enrich the life of all Sicilians.
Once again, I am left scratching my head, shrugging my shoulders and thinking why do they keep doing that to themselves?